Politics & Government

Doll of first lady Glenna Bevin ready for Capitol display

The miniature doll of first lady Glenna Bevin is to be placed next to the doll of former first lady Jane Beshear Monday in the Capitol display of first ladies’ inaugural gowns.
The miniature doll of first lady Glenna Bevin is to be placed next to the doll of former first lady Jane Beshear Monday in the Capitol display of first ladies’ inaugural gowns. jbrammer@herald-leader.com

The miniature doll of former Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear in one of the state Capitol’s most popular tourist attractions will soon be getting a neighbor — Glenna Bevin.

More than 15 months after her husband, Matt Bevin, became Kentucky’s governor, the doll of Glenna Bevin is scheduled to be put on public display in the Capitol at 11 a.m. Monday.

“It won’t be a ceremonial thing, just a few of us and Mrs. Bevin,” Susan Alexander of Marion, the past president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Kentucky, said Friday.

The organization, with about 2,000 members, sponsors the doll display, which goes back to the first Kentucky first lady, Susannah Hart Shelby, wife of Gov. Isaac Shelby, who was elected in 1792. (The group changed its name a few years ago from the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs.)

The 18-inch, French-fashion dolls are adorned in fabric matching the first lady’s Inaugural Ball gown. Four large, glass-enclosed cabinets just east of the Rotunda on the first floor of the Capitol house the dolls, which thousands of tourists view each year.

Alexander said Glenna Bevin has signed off on the doll. The governor’s press office did not respond Friday to a request for comment from Mrs. Bevin.

Usually, the doll of a new Kentucky first lady is placed in the public display within a few months of the election, but the Bevin doll encountered a few problems.

Susette Redwine, president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Kentucky, said Glenna Bevin initially had some suggestions for the doll when it was presented to her last spring. “That’s not unusual for a first lady to offer suggestions,” Redwine said.

The Bevin doll was then dropped, resulting in a broken arm and fingers. It was time-consuming to find the proper compound to match the color of the doll for the new mold, but the material was found in Mexico, she said

There also was a delay in obtaining the fabric to make the gown for the doll.

The federation usually asks first ladies to get extra yards of the fabric for their gowns before they are made, but Mrs. Bevin bought her dress off the rack from a boutique in Louisville, and it was difficult to get the extra fabric for her doll, Redwine said.

Redwine said the goal was to have the Bevin doll installed by April 25, when several members of the women’s group from Western Kentucky who have never visited the Capitol plan to visit.

The display of Kentucky’s first ladies in miniature was started in 1971 by Helen Evans, then president of the women’s group. Each doll has a nameplate in front of it, giving her name, dates of birth and death, the official number of the governor’s administration (Bevin is the 62nd), name of her husband and the years he was in office.

When a governor served more than one term, the first lady is shown only for the first administration.

There is no doll for the 34th first lady because Gov. William Goebel was a bachelor when he took office on his death bed in 1900 after having been mortally wounded by an assassin.

No doll was made for “first gentleman” Bill Collins, the husband of Kentucky’s only female governor, Martha Layne Collins. She was in office from 1983 to 1987. Hers is the only doll of a governor in the display.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics

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